40 Days, 40 Bags… oh, boy!

There are thirteen days left in Lent (not including today) and I have eighteen bags to go. A certain someone who will be known as Kiko thinks I won’t make it.

Yes. I. Will.

The hardest bags (actually boxes) are filled and gone: books and art supplies. I thought long and hard about how much reading and painting I do versus how much I dream of doing. 

I was reminded of a personal organizer who worked in the Detroit Metro area. She said – and I paraphrase based on memory – that people were haunted by reminders of their old hobbies and felt relieved when they gave those tools and supplies away. I mostly feel sad that those activities have fallen by the wayside on this crazy road of life.



2018 Progress Report #2

I missed last week’s blog because I went to The Young Human Factory and stayed there until quite late, assessing the quality of our products. I spent extra hours there this weekend, too, but to get ahead.

  • I made the second payment on the principle of La Casa de Tontería’s mortgage.
  • After a month of bullet journaling, I had to replace the journal. Schedules kept changing, events were cancelled indefinitely, and the pages didn’t hold up to the rigors of being crammed into an already-stuffed satchel and stuffed with sticky-notes. Pro tip: write dates in ink, plans in pencil.
  • My writing stinks. I cannot find a way to save the novel’s rough draft. In the meantime, members of my writers’ group are making inroads all over Steemit, Amazon, magazines, and actual printing presses! I have got to finish a short story STAT before the pros have no time to read other people’s crappy drafts.

Fetishizing the Poor?

I received a message that was out-of-the-blue and full of vulgar putdowns. Someone read my recent posts and decided I was “just like Ann Pratchett” and “fetishized the poor”.

I figured out that the American author Pratchett had written an op-ed in the New York Times called “My Year of No Spending”. (It’s behind a paywall, but here is the NPR interview.) After listening to it, I understood that my correspondent thinks I’m a well-off white woman with first-world problems of over-abundance, playing at being poor.  And I may own multiple Chapstick lip balms.*

My correspondent is ridiculous. My interest in frugality is because I have two financial concerns.
Continue reading

Writing: Your Mileage May Vary

According to experienced writers of my acquaintance, writing a free-form draft of a short story takes an hour and a half, on average.

I wrote for five hours. I took a tea break and a false-alarm break. The latter found me nervously checking for a wild animal just outside the screen door. (No, thank God! I couldn’t see it, but there was a raccoon growling at something. Raccoons have a distinctive sound.)

Anyway, I guess the time estimate fell short because the advisors are experienced both with writing drafts and meeting deadlines (several are published). So as with any writing advice, your mileage may vary.

I typed 2,435 words. However, that number includes asides like “Look up climate of coast.”

I woke up this morning with the realization that a character mentioned in passing is more important than the supporting character who was so enjoyable to write. So revisions will ensue.


DIY Writer’s Retreat 2017

This summer has been exceptionally bogged down in minutiae like tearing out an overgrown patch garden and preparing for a very different work environment at The Young Human Factory. I despaired of having a block of undisturbed time to be alone and writing. Plus, I decided to go rewrite the first draft of my novel – and made it worse.

However, I have found the time to do a three-day, self-directed Writer’s Retreat. It started this morning. Continue reading

Book Review: The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke

Gerke, Jeff. The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers and Set Up Your Novel for Success. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest, 2011. Print.

Summary: A guide to writing a novel beginning that hooks readers.

Jeff Gerke writes fiction under the pseudonym Jefferson Scott but teaches at writers conferences and writes advice under his own name. I bought a few of his guidebooks on the recommendation of honest-to-published authors. This is the first I’m reviewing for my ongoing Book Project. Continue reading

An inside job

I have written very little since my last check-in. I had guests, visited family, and started an intensive paper-taming project. How intensive? I had to “rest” the shredder until special-ordered lubricant arrived!

The weather inspired me to tackle this dreaded task. I started sorting files and editing content during record-breaking heat.  On rainy days, I hole-punched, created dividers, and labeled 3-ring binders. As I finish this project, flood watches are in effect. (Thankfully, I see no sign of locusts.)

The objective was to create a time-saving system for handling important paperwork like medical records and legal documents. However, the bulk of the files contain newspaper clippings, acceptance letters, and oh-so-many unpublished pages!

I wanted to rebury them as soon as I unearthed them – as I’ve done many times before – because they inspire strong emotions. Continue reading